A quick flash to the Gungan royal chamber on Naboo in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiere episodes proved to be foreshadowing for where the first post-Mon Calamari adventure ‘Shadow Warrior’ would venture. It’s a tough one to get through without wincing for those who cannot stomach Gungan-speak, but there is an action-oriented surprise with nary a Gungan in sight.
The Gungans are back and in greater numbers, no longer a comical periphery presence when a turncoat is exposed in their ranks. Anakin and Padme hatch a scheme in involving Jar-Jar impersonating a high-ranking Gungan official who had struck a deal with the Separatists to invade the Naboo while under a mystical spell before the official was murdered. Neither has any idea how deep the treachery runs through the Separatist army.
‘Shadow Warrior’ is a brutal episode in The Clone Wars terms if the Gungans and Jar-Jar are viewed as specifically playing to younger audiences. There are multiple murders, including the death of a character that had speaking lines in one of the live-action Star Wars films. As such, it offers a wide range of appeal from Jar-Jar’s hit-and-miss impersonation attempt to a vexed Grevious haphazardly taking on the entire Gungan army by himself.
The Grevious fight in the rain is great, but where ‘Shadow Warrior’ excels is a sequence that echoes back to Darth Vader luring Luke Skywalker to a duel at the conclusion of The Empire Strikes Back. Anakin finds himself the victim of a similar trap, and must face Count Dooku and a small army of Grevious’ body guards as a result. It’s an intense fight in close quarters as Dooku calmly uses the droids and the environment to slowly and systematically beat Anakin into the ground.
Arrogant tactics by both Anakin and Grevious nearly lead to the tide of the war changing, and the Jedi Code prohibiting attachment proves pivotal to the outcome. Their unwise actions ultimately cancel each other out, but neither is able to walk away from the episode under their own power. The same mistakes each character makes foreshadow their ultimate demise.
Overall, ‘Shadow Warrior’ offers up an above-average plot for the series that takes a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. It’s impossible to avoid the Gungan-speak, but if you can tolerate it, there are some fantastic action sequences and sharp visual effects in the foggy Naboo swamps to kick back and enjoy.
– Dan Bradley